Great Punk Stuff on Tape

converse-punkAll Star Punk Footage

Here are some of my favorite documentaries, films or shorts about punk in general, a specific era, style or band. Each of them have this extra edge that somehow gave me an itch to watch them again.

The Decline of Western Civilization (1981) 

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Penelope Spheeris’ documentary on the Los Angeles punk scene. Filmed between December 1979 and May 1980,  featuring Alice Bag Band, Black Flag, Catholic Discipline, Circle Jerks, Fear, Germs, and X was this was the first of a serie of 3 ”Decline movies”.

UK-DK  

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Featuring interviews, live concert footage, and a feature on how punk was transformed from a trend to a way of life, UK/DK is a comprehensive look at the skinhead/punk movement. Some of the most notorious bands on the scene are featured, including The Exploited, The Vice Squad, The Adicts and many more bands from UK.

Born to Lose – The Last Rock’n’Roll Movie 

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Veteran documentary filmmaker and hipster Lech Kowalski creates this film about his friend and hard-partying rock god Johnny Thunders, member of legendary proto-punk band the New York Dolls. Through archive footage and interviews with such musicians as Dee Dee Ramone and Sylvain Sylvain, the film details his stint with the Dolls, the formation of his other band, the Heartbreakers; his rise to fame, particularly in Japan; his descent into heroin addiction, and the mysterious circumstances of his death in a New Orleans hotel room in 1991. Born to Lose: The Last Rock ‘n’ Roll Movie also contains some rarely seen concert performances in Max’s Kansas City and the Mudd Club. The photo on the poster is by photographer Marcia Resnick.

D.O.A.: A Rite of Passage

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From the interviews with seminal bands in their earliest stages, D.O.A features live performances by the Sex Pistols, The Dead Boys, Generation X (with Billy Idol), The Rich Kids, the X-Ray Spex, and Sham 69, with additional music from The Clash, Iggy Pop, and Augustus Pablo to the live coverage of the first Pistols show in America, D.O.A: A Rite of Passage” is thus far the ONLY film to truly capture the feel, spirit and philosophy of the era. A near-comatose Sid Vicious is hilarious, as is the truly terrible, ersatz punk band Terry and The Idiots, whose leader is interviewed about the scene throughout the film. The depictions of a very bleak, “no future” England sum it all up as succinctly as the music itself.

Jubilee

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Jubilee is a 1978 cult film by Derek Jarman heavily influenced by the 1970s punk aesthetic in its style and presentation. Shot in grainy colour, it is largely plotless and episodic. Location filming took advantage of London neighbourhoods that were economically depressed and/or still contained large amounts of rubble from the London Blitz during WWII. Unlike the others this one is really a movie, not a documentary and that is why I thought it would be interesting to include it on the list.
The Plot: When Queen Elizabeth I asks her court alchemist to show her England in the future, she’s transported 400 years to a post-apocalyptic wasteland of roving girl gangs, an all-powerful media mogul, fascistic police, scattered filth, and twisted sex. With Jubilee, legendary British filmmaker Derek Jarman channeled political dissent and artistic daring into a revolutionary blend of history and fantasy, musical and cinematic experimentation, satire and anger, fashion and philosophy. With its uninhibited punk petulance and sloganeering, Jubilee brings together many cultural and musical icons of the time, including Jordan, Toyah Willcox, Little Nell, Wayne County, Adam Ant, and Brian Eno (with his first original film score), to create a genuinely unique, unforgettable vision. Ahead of its time and often frighteningly accurate in its predictions, it is a fascinating historical document and a gorgeous work of film art.

UK Subs – Punk Can Take It

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Fresh from making his cinematic debut with The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle, director Julien Temple wrote and directed this short promotional film Punk Can Take It for punk band the U.K. Subs. The promo mixed live performances—shot during the U.K. Subs’ tour to promote the single “Stranglehold”—with a comedic pastiche of Temple’s source material—a Second World War propaganda film London Can Take It, which had shown the plucky Londoners’ resilience to Germany’s bombing campaign. In Temple’s film the U.K. Subs provided the “symphony of war” while Eddie Tudor Pole and Helen Wellington-Lloyd are embattled punks fighting for victory against crass blood-sucking commercialization of the music they love. The U.K. Subs (short for “Subversives”) were among the original bands who led the British punk charge in 1976. Still performing and recording today, this film captures the Subs at an early high point in their career under the pairing of Charlie Harper (vocals) and Nicky Garratt (guitar) who created a blistering output between 1979-1982.

BLITZKRIEG BOP (1978)

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If you were disappointed by the shitty CBGB’s movie made a couple of years back starring Alan Rickman, then you will get a better sense of the energy, talent and musical revolution that took place at CBGB’s in the mid-1970s with this hour-long TV documentary Blitzkrieg Bop . Focussing on The Ramones, Blondie and the The Dead Boys, Blitzkrieg Bop mixes live performance with short interview clips and a racy newscast voiceover. It’s recommended viewing.

Punk: Attitude

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Punk: Attitude is a film by Don Letts. It explores the “punk” revolution, genre and following from its beginning in the mid-1970’s up to its effect on modern rock music and other genres. The cast is a veritable list of alternative musicians and directors offering their opinions on what has been called a musical revolution. One of the film’s celebrated attributes comes in the form of its cast, showcasing the who’s who of punk tock/alternative culture contemporaries like David Johansen, Thurston Moore, Henry Rollins, Captain Sensible, Jim Jarmusch, Mick Jones, Jello Biafra, Siouxsie Sioux, and Darryl Jenifer.

Don’t You Wish That We Were Dead

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From Lemmy filmmaker Wes Orshoski comes the story of the long-ignored pioneers of punk: The Damned, the first punks on wax and the first to cross the Atlantic. This authorized film includes appearances from Chrissie Hynde, Mick Jones (The Clash), Lemmy and members of Pink Floyd, Black Flag, GNR, the Sex Pistols, Blondie, Buzzcocks, and more. Shot around the globe over three years, the film charts the band’s complex history and infighting, as it celebrated its 35th anniversary and found its estranged former members striking out on their own anniversary tour, while still others battle cancer.

Gimme Danger (The Stooges)

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Jarmusch has commented: “No other band in rock’n’roll history has rivaled The Stooges’ combination of heavy primal throb, spiked psychedelia, blues-a-billy grind, complete with succinct angst-ridden lyrics, and a snarling, preening leopard of a front man who somehow embodies Nijinsky, Bruce Lee, Harpo Marx, and Arthur Rimbaud. There is no precedent for The Stooges, while those inspired by them are now legion.“He added that the film “is more an ‘essay’ than a document. It’s our love letter to possibly the greatest band in rock’n’roll history, and presents their story, their influences and their impact, complete with some never-before-seen footage and photographs. Like the Stooges and their music, ‘Gimme Danger’ is a little wild, messy, emotional, funny, primitive, and sophisticated in the most unrefined way. Long live The Stooges!”

Blank Generation

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A movie by Ullie Lommel featuring Richard Hell, Andy Warhol and Carole Bouquet. Nada, a beautiful French journalist on assignment in New York, records the life and work of an up and coming punk rock star, Billy. Soon she enters into a volatile relationship with him and must decide whether to continue with it, or return to her lover, a fellow journalist trying to track down the elusive Andy Warhol. Also a 1976 documentary by the same name HERE featuring Patti Smith, Television, Ramones, Blondie and Richard Hell.

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“Salad Days: A Decade of Punk in Washington, DC (1980-90)” is a documentary film that examines the early DIY punk scene in the Nation’s Capital. It was a decade when seminal bands like Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Government Issue, Scream, Void, Faith, Rites of Spring, Marginal Man, Fugazi, and others released their own records and booked their own shows—without major record label constraints or mainstream media scrutiny. Contextually, it was a cultural watershed that predated the alternative music explosion of the 1990s (and the industry’s subsequent implosion). Thirty years later, DC’s original DIY punk spirit serves as a reminder of the hopefulness of youth, the power of community and the strength of conviction. There is also an earlier documentary called ‘A History of DC Punk” that predates Salad Days’ overlook of the DC Punk scene.

The Punk Rock Movie

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Roxy club disc jockey Don Letts was given a Super 8 camera as a present by fashion editor Caroline Baker.When Letts started to film the acts at The Roxy, it was soon reported that he was making a movie, so Letts determined to film continuously for three months.  The film features live footage of The Clash, Sex Pistols, WayneCounty & the Electric Chairs, Generation X, Slaughter and the Dogs, The Slits, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Eater, Subway Sect, X-Ray Spex, Alternative TV and Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers. Backstage footage of certain bands, such as Generation X, The Slits and Siouxsie and the Banshees, is also included. All live footage was shot at the Roxy, except that of the Sex Pistols, who were filmed at The Screen On The Green cinema in London on 3 April 1977. The performance was Sid Vicious’ first public concert with the band.

ROCK N ROLL HIGH SCHOOL

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Vince Lombardi High School continues to lose its school principles. The students are more concerned with rock ‘n’ roll than their education until the new principle, Miss Evelyn Togar is hired. She promises to set Vince Lombardi High School straight, and get the students focus back on education. However, a Ramones concert is coming to town, and Riff Randall, the biggest Ramones fan at the high school, plans on getting tickets to the concert in order to give them a song that she wrote entitled “Rock N’ Roll High School”. A series of events including Miss Togar taking away Riff’s tickets, a record burning and a taking over of the high school by Vince Lombardi High students and the Ramones, leads to a school evacuation by the police and an even more surprising ending!

The Great Rock and Roll Swindle 

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Let Malcolm McLaren show you how to achieve fame and fortune by making your pop group the most despised band in the world! This film about the brief but eventful career of The Sex Pistols primarily focuses on McLaren, their manager, as he presents his ten-point program on how to achieve success through chaos, ineptitude, and abusing the music industry. Despite some remarkable footage of The Sex Pistols’ infamous Jubilee Day performance and clips from their final concert in San Francisco, there’s surprisingly little screen time devoted to the group actually performing. Instead, The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle offers McLaren’s agit-prop philosophies on music, culture, politics, and the entertainment industry, as well as an amusing (if often inaccurate) account of the band’s rise and fall. Along the way, we’re also offered some curious animated sequences, “film noir” episodes starring guitarist Steve Jones, footage of the band recording with exiled British train robber Ronnie Biggs, and Sid Vicious singing “My Way” (he had been dead for over a year by the time the movie was released). The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle began life as “Who Killed Bambi?”, a project written by Roger Ebert and directed by Russ Meyer, which closed down after two days of shooting when funding fell through. By the time McLaren and Julien Temple got it off the ground (with a radically different script), Johnny Rotten had left the group, which explains why the band’s front man is hardly in the movie. The rest of the group broke up a few months later. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Punk’s Not Dead

 

Of course that doesn’t cover them all but it’s a fairly good start. There is also very good documentaries about The RamonesMC5, The Velvet Underground, The New York DollsCrass, The Stranglers, Joy DivisionThe Dead Kennedies and Black Flag (just click on the band to acess link) Enjoy the view!

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Beating Time with Angela Womann (Part II)

PART II

CLICK FOR PART 1 HERE!

CBGB’s 70’s Punk Scene by Godlis

1976-1978

CBGB’s House photographer

David Godlis was eyewitness to the 1970s New York punk scene. Here’s a very small sample of what you can find i his photo souvenir book on the CBGB with an intro by Jim Jarmusch who just did a documentary about The Stooges ”Gimme Danger”.

"The long view across Bowery that fabulous summer of 77" godlis,1977)
“The long view across Bowery that fabulous summer of 77” (Godlis,1977)
2. The club’s owner, Hilly Kristal, stands outside among the crowd waiting to get in (1977).
Hilly Kristal, Bowery. “Hilly overseeing his Bowery kingdom. It was essential that I had a good shot of him. But back then when I showed people this photo they would ask why I had a photo of this bearded guy in a flannel shirt mixed in with my pictures of punks on the Bowery. Now everyone knows. Without Hilly, I wouldn’t have any of these photos.” (Godlis, 1977)
3. Patti Smith, one of the first artists booked to play the club when it opened, arriving (1976).
Patti Smith, one of the first artists booked to play the club when it opened, arriving (Godlis,1976)
4. Sylvia Morales (who would go on to marry Lou Reed) and downtown scenester Mudd Club co-founder Anya Phillips strike a pose (1977).
Sylvia Morales (who would go on to marry Lou Reed) and downtown scenester/ Mudd Club co-founder Anya Phillips strike a pose (Godlis,1977)
Roberta Bayley, Mary Harron, John Holmstrom, CBGB. "All three were essential at the classic Punk Magazine. Roberta Bayley shot the cover of the first Ramones album and also worked the front desk at CBGB’s, Mary Harron did the first U.S. piece on the Sex Pistols for Punk and later directed many films including American Psycho, and John Holmstrom founded Punk magazine and still runs the punk empire online."(Godlis,1977)
Roberta Bayley, Mary Harron, John Holmstrom, CBGB. “All three were essential at the classic Punk Magazine. Roberta Bayley shot the cover of the first Ramones album and also worked the front desk at CBGB’s, Mary Harron did the first U.S. piece on the Sex Pistols for Punk and later directed many films including American Psycho, and John Holmstrom founded Punk magazine and still runs the punk empire online.”(Godlis,1977)
5. Garage punk band The Cramps standing outside the club (1977).
Psychobilly/Garage punk band The Cramps (Goldis,1977)
6. Music journalist Lester Bangs (1977).
Lester Bangs, CBGB. “Music journalist Lester Bangs brought his pen and typewriter to NYC to report on what was going on down on the Bowery. Here shown wearing a Punk Magazine T-shirt. (Godlis,1977)
7. Singer-songwriter Alex Chilton (1977).
Singer-songwriter Alex Chilton, Bowery. “Alex was a big photography fan, photographer William Eggleston being a family friend in Memphis. So we tried shooting this out on the Bowery median strip, getting very lucky when a drop of rain landed on the lens transforming this shot from pretty good to iconic. Used as the cover for his independent 45 ‘Bangkok,’ an outtake of this session is the cover of the recent biography ‘A Man Called Destruction,’ by Holly George-Warren.”(Godlis,1977)
Klaus Nomi, Christopher Parker, Jim Jarmusch, Bowery. "I knew Jim Jarmusch through a mutual friend studying film with him at NYU, and he was hanging out at CBGB's. Christopher Parker was in Jim’s first film 'Permanent Vacation.' And Klaus Nomi, was just getting ready to shine over at Club 57 in the next year or so.''(Godlis,1978)
Klaus Nomi, Christopher Parker, Jim Jarmusch, Bowery. “I knew Jim Jarmusch through a mutual friend studying film with him at NYU, and he was hanging out at CBGB’s. Christopher Parker was in Jim’s first film ‘Permanent Vacation.’ And Klaus Nomi, was just getting ready to shine over at Club 57 in the next year or so.”(Godlis,1978)
8. Patti Smith performing with the Patti Smith Group (1977).
Patti Smith performing with the Patti Smith Group (Godlis,1977)
9. Punk innovator Richard Hell performing (1978).
Punk innovator Richard Hell performing (Godlis,1978)
Richard Hell, Bowery, ''Around 3 a.m., I caught Richard exiting CBGB before catching a cab in the Bowery rain'' (Godlis 1977)
Richard Hell, Bowery, ”Around 3 a.m., I caught Richard exiting CBGB before catching a cab in the Bowery rain” (Godlis 1977)
10. The infamous bathroom stalls (1976).
CBGB’s Bathroom “The Metropolitan Museum of Art used this photo to recreate the legendary CBGB bathroom for their ‘Punk Couture’ show last year. That’s one way to get into the Met, I guess.”(Godlis,1976)
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Punk magazine co-founder Legs McNeil enjoying (?) a drink (Godlis, 1978)
12. The Talking Heads performing (1977).
Talking Heads, CBGB. “This was the first time they played CBGB as a foursome, after adding Jerry Harrison (formerly with the Modern Lovers). They used to do a great cover of 1910 Fruitgum Company’s ‘123 Red Light.’ It’s on YouTube.”(Godlis,1977)
13. Blondie performing (1977).
Blondie, CBGB. “Another view from the side of the stage. Debbie Harry with Chris Stein on slide guitar doing a cover of ‘Little Red Rooster’ at the Punk Magazine Benefit show.” (Godlis,1977)
14. Richard Manitoba, lead singer of the Dictators, and a friend stand beneath the awning of the club.
Dictators, Bowery. “I photographed ‘Handsome Dick’ Manitoba and his girlfriend Jody under the awning to thank him for returning my lost wallet. Considering that I used to have to explain to people what the letters CBGB OMFUG* meant every time I’d show this picture, I never could have imagined that CBGB would someday grace iconic T-shirts worldwide.” (Godlis.1976)
15. No wavers (which was a short-lived subculture for people who rejected the new wave musicart movement), waiting outside the club (1978).
No Wave Punks, Bowery. “I think it was Terry Ork who came up with the idea to name the next thing after New Wave, No Wave. All participants in this scene, here hanging right outside the club are Harold Paris, Kristian Hoffman, Diego Cortez, Anya Philips, Lydia Lunch, James Chance, Jim Sclavunos, Bradley Field and Liz Seidman. Well actually, Harold Paris was not a participant, but he was a best friend of Thurston Moore who once told me he should have been in this photo instead. He was probably standing right next to me when I took it, and his Volkswagen can be seen parked in the background.” (Godlis, 1978)
16. Dee Dee and Joey of the Ramones arriving at the club (1977).
Dee Dee and Joey Ramone, Bowery. “Dee Dee once told me that he chose this for the cover of his book “Poison Heart – Surviving The Ramones”, because he remembered this as a ‘really good night.’ I like that reason.” (Godlis,1977)
The Ramones, who are arguably one of the artists most closely associated with the CBGB, performing (Godlis,1977)
The Ramones, who are arguably one of the artists most closely associated with the CBGB, performing (Godlis,1977)
Ramones, CBGB. "I love that Joey Ramone is holding up the 'Gabba Gabba Hey' sign himself, before they started bringing Zippy onstage to hold it during 'Pinhead.''(Godlis,1977)
Ramones, CBGB. “I love that Joey Ramone is holding up the ‘Gabba Gabba Hey’ sign himself, before they started bringing Zippy onstage to hold it during ‘Pinhead.”(Godlis,1977)
CBGB Interior at Closing Time. "Walking out of the club at 4 a.m., it all looked so romantic to me." (Godlis,1977)
CBGB Interior at Closing Time. “Walking out of the club at 4 a.m., it all looked so romantic to me.” (Godlis,1977)
garbage truck
Garbage Truck, Bowery 4 a.m. “And here’s what it looked like out on Bowery after closing when the Garbage Trucks ruled the NYC streets. They still do.” (Godlis,1977)

10 Ramones Clips You Need To Watch!

ramonesJust click on pic for the clips!

When you boo the Ramones, you are booing rock’n’roll”; So said Supersuckers’ frontman Eddie Spaghetti. They could be the truest words ever uttered. Tommy Ramone, who died Friday on July 11th 2014 at the age of 65, was the band’s first official drummer and the cool, streetwise rogue in the shrunken black T-shirt and oversized shades staring out from the cover of that 29-minute-sprint-to-the-finish first album. An original member of the band, Tommy’s tenure in the group would last until 1978. During that time he played on arguably their three greatest records (RamonesLeave Home and Rocket To Russia), co-producing each and underpinning the songs with a high-energy, no-frills style that combined with Johnny Ramone’s buzzsaw guitar to propel their music to thrillingly unhinged heights. And if proof were needed of the NY punk icons’ foundation status in rock’s edifice, one need only survey the video evidence corralled below. Strap yourself in, and prepare to break the sound barrier with the Ramones Mark I at their very, very best.

tommy-ramones
Click!

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White Trash Punk Playground

The two books go well together, giving a representative look at the intersection of music, art, scene-making, fashion, hustling, and hanging out that made the early New York City punk scene so indelible.

Vintage Photos of New York City’s 1970s Punk Playground

David Johansen of the New York Dolls and Richard Hell of Television backstage at CBGB. From White Trash Uncut by Christopher Makos, © 2014, published by Glitterati Incorporated

Two notable recent books from Glitterati Incorporated take readers deep into New York City’s 1970s punk underground. Playground: Growing Up In the New York Underground by Paul Zone, with Jake Austin (of Roctober fame!), features photos and firsthand accounts from a foot soldier in the rock and roll wars waged in the city’s now infamous clubs, including Max’s Kansas City and CBGB. White Trash Uncut, meanwhile, comes out of Andy Warhol’s factory scene and, as you might expect, takes an artier look at the New York scene.

Given that my tastes tend more towards the Ramones/Dead Boys/Dictators and less Warhol/Waters, Playground hits a real sweet spot. Zone’s photos pull back the curtain on that time and place in a way few other books on the ’70s NYC scene have done. Being in a band at the time (The Fast), Zone was in the thick of it from the beginning. Sure, you get plenty of (mediocre) performance photos. But that isn’t why you’re here. Where Playground shines is in its casual photos of friends—famous and not—behind-the-scenes, after hours and off guard, almost 240 pages of them. It also brings Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain’s awesome oral history of the early New York punk scene, Please Kill Me, to life. It’s a perfect companion.

With the recent passing of Tommy Erdelyi/Ramone, Playground is particularly timely. It’s an exciting visual romp through a unique period in the history of rock and roll. Looking through the photos, it’s hard not to notice how many of the people featured have died, many way before their prime: drugs (too many to list), AIDS (which also took Zone’s brother, Miki), cancer (three of the original Ramones) and weird car crashes (Stiv Bators). How the hell are all the Stones still alive and the Ramones all dead? Here are some samples from that book:

Sylvain Sylvain, Johnny Thunders, and Jerry Nolan (New York Dolls) at Max’s. (August 1973)
Tish and Snooky at Manic Panic on St. Marks Place (1978)
Debbie Harry (Blondie) at Max’s. (1975)
Dee Dee Ramone and Connie Gripp in Max’s kitchen. (1975)
Wayne County at the Coventry, in Queens. (1973)
Crayola at Max’s. (1977)
Originally published in 1977, White Trash Uncut, by Andy Warhol Factory devotee and one time Interview staff photographer Christopher Makos, quickly went out of print and became something of a collector’s item. Finally reprinted, the book consists of a mix of artsier photos—close-ups of body parts and portraits of players in the art and music scenes, focusing on that point of intersection between the two in venues like Max’s Kansas City. It leans heavy on photos of the well-known, if not outright famous: Richard Hell, Andy Warhol, Mick Jagger, the Dead Boys, Debbie Harry, Grace Jones, David Bowie, Divine, Man Ray, John Waters, Marilyn Chambers and plenty other luminaries of that era. The reprint includes 25 photos not included in the original book. Here’s a sampling:
Punk Rock fans, New York City.
David Bowie in Los Angeles.
Divine and John Waters
Hustler, posing. (Jeans by Fiorucci, Milan.)
Earring by Gillette.

PLUS!

CBGBS BLITZKRIEG BOP FEAT. RAMONES , DEBBY HARRY & DEAD BOYS 

LONDON SCENE 1978

The Way They Were

Old Punk documentary from Granada TV on Channel 4. Features (in order):- Sex Pistols, Elvis Costello, Buzzcocks, John Cooper Clarke, Iggy Pop, Wreckless Eric, Ian Dury, Penetration, Blondie, Fall, Jam, Jordan, Devo, Tom Robinson Band, Johnny Thunder, Elvis Costello, XTC, Jonathan Richman, Nick Lowe, Siouxie & the Banshees, Cherry Vanilla & Magazine….. The tape fails there! I have left the adverts in for historical reference – TSB, Once, Cluster, Coke is it, Roger Daltrey in American Express, Ulay, Swan, Our Price, Gastrils, Cluster & Prestige. All content remains the copyright of the current holders ~ I claim none.

 The Punk Rock Movie

A revealing look into the bands comprising the 1978 London punk-rock scene, and a peek back-stage at the lives behind the facade. Includes performances by Sex Pistols, Siouxsie and the Banshees and other concurrent bands.

Most of the bands were filmed at the Roxy club in London, where Don Letts worked as a DJ. Letts filmed the bands very simply with a Super-8 camera, and also filmed on the tour bus and at shows with The Clash and The Slits. The Sex Pistols were filmed at Screen on the Green in London on 3 April 1977, Sid Vicious’s first show with the band.

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New York Dolls

All Dolled Up!

A New York Dolls Story – Found Tapes:

In the early 70’s Bob Gruen and his wife Nadya Beck bought a video camera and filmed around 40 hours of footage from the New-York Dolls. This is a must see!!  

noisey-slide-understandmag

Artist Biography by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

The New York Dolls created punk rock before there was a term for it. Building on the Rolling Stones‘ dirty rock & roll, Mick Jagger‘s androgyny, girl group pop, the Stooges‘ anarchic noise, and the glam rock of David Bowie and T. Rex, the New York Dolls created a new form of hard rock that presaged both punk rock and heavy metal. Their drug-fueled, shambolic performances influenced a generation of musicians in New York and London, who all went on to form punk bands. And although they self-destructed quickly, the band’s first two albums remain among the most popular cult records in rock & roll history.

All of the members of the New York Dolls played in New York bands before the band formed in late 1971. Guitarists Johnny Thunders and Rick Rivets, bassist Arthur Kane, and drummer Billy Murcia were joined by vocalist David Johansen. Early in 1972, Rivets was replaced by Syl Sylvain and the group began playing regularly in Lower Manhattan, particularly at the Mercer Arts Center. Within a few months, they had earned a dedicated cult following, but record companies were afraid of signing the Dolls because of their cross-dressing and blatant vulgarity.

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Late in 1972, the Dolls embarked on their first tour of England. During the tour, drummer Murcia died after mixing drugs and alcohol. He was replaced by Jerry Nolan. After Nolan joined the band, the Dolls finally secured a record contract with Mercury Records. Todd Rundgren — whose sophisticated pop seemed at odds with the band’s crash-and-burn rock & roll — produced the band’s debut New York Dolls, which appeared in the summer of 1973. The record received overwhelmingly positive reviews, but it didn’t stir the interest of the general public; the album peaked at number 116 on the U.S. charts. The band’s follow-up, Too Much Too Soon, was produced by the legendary girl group producer George “Shadow” Morton. Although the sound of the record was relatively streamlined, the album was another commercial failure, only reaching number 167 upon its early summer 1974 release.  dolls

Following the disappointing sales of the Dolls’ two albums, Mercury Records dropped the band. No other record labels were interested in the group, so the Dolls decided to hire a new manager, the British Malcolm McLaren, who would soon become famous for managing the Sex Pistols. With the Dolls, McLaren began developing his skill for turning shock into invaluable publicity. Although he made it work for the Pistols just a year later, all of his strategies backfired for The Dolls. McLaren made the band dress completely in red leather and perform in front of the U.S.S.R.’s flag, all of which meant to symbolize the Dolls’ alleged communist allegiance. The new approach only made record labels more reluctant to sign the band and members soon began leaving the group.

courageous-cat-04By the middle of 1975, Thunders and Nolan left the Dolls. The remaining members, Johansen and Sylvain, fired McLaren and assembled a new lineup of the band. For the next two years, the duo led a variety of different incarnations of the band, to no success. In 1977, Johansen and Sylvain decided to break up the band permanently. Over the next two decades, various outtakes collections, live albums, and compilations were released by a variety of labels and The New York Dolls’ two original studio albums never went out of print.

Upon the Dolls’ breakup, David Johansen began a solo career that would eventually metamorphose into his lounge-singing alter ego, Buster Poindexter, in the mid-’80s. Syl Sylvain played with Johansen for two years before he left to pursue his own solo career. Johnny Thunders formed The Heartbreakers with Jerry Nolan after they left the group in 1975. Over the next decade, the Heartbreakers would perform sporadically and Thunders would record an occasional solo album. On April 23, 1991, Thunders was found dead in his room at the St. Peter House in New Orleans, Louisiana. Nolan performed at a tribute concert for Thunders later in 1991; a few months later, he died of a stroke at the age of 40.

MI0002490791In 2004, former Smiths vocalist Morrissey — who was once the president of a British New York Dolls fan club — invited the surviving members of the New York Dolls to perform at the 2004 Meltown Festival, a music and cultural festival that was being curated that year by the singer. To the surprise of many, David Johansen, Syl Sylvain, and Arthur Kane agreed to the gig, with Steve Conte (from Johansen’s solo band) standing in for Thunders and Gary Powell from the Libertines sitting in on drums. The group’s set was well received by critics and fans (and was recorded for release on DVD and compact disc), which led to offers for other festival appearances, but only a few weeks after the Meltdown show, Kane checked himself into a Los Angeles hospital with what he thought was a severe case of the flu. Kane’s ailment was soon diagnosed as leukemia, and he died only a few hours later, on July 13, 2004, at age 55.

With Sam Yaffa (of Hanoi Rocks) on bass, the remaining Dolls played a hometown tribute to their fallen brothers at Little Steven‘s International Underground Garage Festival in New York City on August 14, 2004, reuniting again (this time with Brian Delaney on drums) in 2006 for the all-new CD/DVD One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This. The Todd Rundgren-produced ‘Cause I Sez So appeared on Rhino in 2009. A fifth studio album, Dancing Backward in High Heels, featuring both Johansen and Sylvain and produced and mixed by Jason Hill, appeared from 429 Records early in 2011.

The very controversed red leather look Malcom McLaren gave the New York Dolls, also using a communist flag backdrop for their concerts. Not very long afterwards McLaren was flying back to UK. The Dolls were history and McLaren was about to enter it. With a keen eye for trends, McLaren realised that a new protest style was needed for the ’70s, and largely initiated the punk movement in the UK, for which he supplied fashions from the Chelsea boutique ‘SEX’, operated with his girlfriend Vivienne Westwood. The issue of a controversial record, “God Save the Queen”, satirising the Queen’s Jubilee in 1977 was typical of McLaren’s shock tactics, and he gained publicity by being arrested after a promotional boat trip outside the Houses of Parliament. The Sex Pistols became more associated with the Punk movement than any other band.

Here’s one last clip from the red leather era.

Spirits of the Dead

The Horror…The Sacrifice…The Emptiness…

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Each time I see or hear about the tragic death of a young talented musician, actor, performer or artist, it reminds me of the cinematographic adaptation by Fellini of a short story by American author Edgar A. Poe, first published in 1841 ”Never Bet The Devil your Head–A Tale with a Moral” that is precisely about the sacrifice of those stars that we so freely create now and then, those who made it far enough to see themselves exposed to a decaying life, falling apart into superficiality and eventually totally lose sight of everything that really matters… You see guys like Layne Staley and Kurt Cobain (both incidentally died on April the 5th) who were terrified, unable to cope anymore, feeling so alone and abandoned that they chose death.  I won’t tell their kids or any kid at all that ”it’s better to burn out than to fade away” like it’s written to Boddha — Kurt ‘s childhood imaginary friend that later became his alter-ego — in Cobain’s suicide note. I know they will have to be either so pained by it all that they will chose to stay away from it all or either suffer more or less the same fate.As I was saying, I was talking about this Fellini’s movie called Toby Dammit, played here by Terence Stamp who gives an astonishing performance in this superb short from the collective ”Spirits of the Dead” (1968 – I was 1-year-old!) I never forgot that face, never will and I totally freaked out when I later learned that it was in fact THE DEVIL HIMSELF who was represented here! I had for sure seen it when I was young, I have no idea how old, but one thing is for sure, I never forgot it. It really haunted me; Fellini creates both haunting and magnificent visions based on our lives.. He resembles a child.. One second he can be so naive and full of a sense of amazement but  in a flash you’ll be thrown in something very ”Tragédie Grecque” and he will bring you to a caricatured degree that is so satirical,  surreal, maniacal and nightmarish that you will want to escape this bad dream where everyone looks and acts in such strange manners. Nope I never forgot it, I never could forget the first time I saw the devil’s face…

Fellini close up

Here it is for you, the only horror movie Federico Fellini ever did, watch it here from Spirits of the Dead, TOBY DAMMIT!

 

Marcia Resnick and Victor Bockris

EXCLUSIVE

Questions and Answers About ”NYC Bad Boys” and a Lifetime Partnership

By Tobe Damit
by Tobe Damit

Introduction in Disguise

I will try to, like the Clash album says, ”Cut the Crap” and say that I heard about Victor Bockris the first time through a book called ”Conversation”, which I read avidly the first time it fell in my lap and have re-read a few times. Those Conversations were a goldmine for a Burroughs and Warhol amateur like me who believed that both of them have been to art in general what the Sex Pistols were to music. To me, ”Conversation” is an essential book that should be archived and kept for safety like a mystical artefact, exactly like Burroughs’ paranoid mind would have imagined it; like files that unknown alien forces are constantly updating, thus keeping tabs on the underworld agents. Numbered transcripts sourced and supported by audio, film, and/or photographs, describing meetings between liberating forces from one of the leading underground artistic mind and the Godfather of the surgeons of the Beat Generation, leading to a whole new way of deconstructing and re-creating different realities that were bearers of an extremely particular strain of virus called  PUNK.

Jagger, Burroughs and Warhol by Marcia Resnick, Conversation
Jagger, Burroughs and Warhol by Marcia Resnick in ”Conversation”

I also knew, reading that book, that Victor was already working very closely with Marcia Resnick back then. I followed the timeline traced by her  photos and discovered a whole new world in Resnick’s fascinating images and thoughts, starting with Re-Visions and already seeing that Punks, Poets and Provocateurs that was only released in 2015 (yes! the very day this article was posted!) already was and always has been in the making very early on after the day those two kindred spirits met for the first time. In fact Marcia began the book the same month they both met in September 1977, and finished taking the pictures in 1982. She then worked sporadically on videos of the pictures, showed some of the images in group shows through the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. She also participated in a traveling show, which became a book, called ”Bande A Part, New York Underground 60’s-70’s-80’s’‘ which featured the photographs of many of her contemporaries. This was showcased as a ”travelling show” in venues in Tokyo, Paris, London, Hong Kong, LA and New York, from 2005 to 2009. This was a very positive sign that her work was still alive and growing. In 2010, she had a one-woman show of her vintage portraits from the 1977 to 1982 period at the Deborah Bell Photographs in NYC. It was also in 2010 Marcia and Victor began to ”physically” put the book together. The result is a shared vision of the world that is exposed through a sincere, honest, disarming, straightforward series of photos, poems, thoughts, paintings and a variety of ways and any possible means to recreate the feelings attached to those vivid memories. Each of those forever preserved time capsules humbling me, reminding me of how fragile some of us are or were, especially some of those NYC Bad Boys, but also revealing how our weaknesses are non-dissociative parts of our inner beauty.

Victor Bockris and Marcia Resnick
Victor Bockris and Marcia Resnick

No need to say I was delighted when I was asked to do an article about Punk, Poets and Provocateurs in an interview format. Marcia and Victor were kind enough to gently respond to some questions I had in mind after I got the chance to read and feel ”Punks, Poets & Provocateurs: NYC Bad Boys, 1977-1982” that is righteously presented here as the triumphant accomplishment of a lifetime collaboration between two artist I admire so much. I sincerely hope you enjoy it as much as I did!!

LAN: ”How did you two met?”

Victor Bockris: ”We met at an opening of a photo show at the Andrew Crispo gallery in September 1977. And spent the next six weeks talking and running around town meeting all sorts of people. I helped Marcia collect back cover quotations for “Re-Visions” and published “Why I Hate My Girlfriend” about her in High Times in 1978. Fuelled by love and hate.”

LAN: Do you think the term Bad Boy is as appealing to the general public as it was in the 60s and the 70s? Has anything changed?”

Victor Bockris: ”Bad Boys is a generic term which has lost most of its meaning. That’s why we changed the title from Bad Boys to “Punks, Poets and Provocateurs” which had previously been her sub-title. Although Marcia does a good job defining the Counterculture’s Bad Boy Icon in her outstanding texts. ”

LAN: ”Do you see some of them as angels with broken wings?”

John Lydon
John Lydon by Marcia Resnick

Marcia Resnick: ”I see Bad Boys as rebels of attitudes and codes who often shake things up in the best way.”

LAN: ”Do you still find inspiration in your old friendships and acquaintances? You must have developed special everlasting relationships with some people!”

Marcia Resnick: ”We know the people we used to hang out with and love and support them. We are always overjoyed to see them, like veterans of a war. We definitely find inspiration in all our living and departed friends.”

LAN: ”It’s a well-known cliché to say that most good artists have suffered a lot, and somehow channeled this suffering and/or anxiety through their art. Do you consider you went through that too?”

Marcia Resnick: ”Art is an act of confronting what distresses you most and overcoming the distress by turning it into art.”

LAN: ”Has it ever happened to you that on the moment something appeared to be a bad thing, but you later came to realise it was in fact a good thing?”

Marcia Resnick: ”Contradiction is one basis of creativity. Challenges that appear to be bad are often very good for you. This can also be said about artistic mistakes.”

LAN: ”Do you consider yourselves more as Poets, Punks or Provocateurs or none of the above? If none of the above, how do you consider yourselves if you had to pick one or few words?”

Both: ”Punk Poet!”

LAN: ”What do you think Burroughs and Ginsberg (and by extension the Beat Generation) brought to the punk scene? Do you think they fit into that equation?”

Victor Bockris: ”The punk scene shone a light of affection and affiliation on the Beat scene. Allen and Bill lived in the midst of a punk neighbourhood, the Lower East Side. Punk was neo-beat.

LAN: ”What about The Velvet Underground?”

Victor Bockris: ”The Velvets were the archetypal punk band. Lou Reed was the most important person who visited CBGB’s. He supported punk from the outset. Punks loved Lou.”

Joey Ramone by Marcia Resnick
Joey Ramone by Marcia Resnick

LAN: ”Punk was about industry, not virtuosity.” Could you expand on what you meant by that?”

Victor Bockris: ”Punks worked very hard to make beautiful music. This industry was inspired by passion and could be accomplished with a DIY attitude as opposed to a stringent technically proficient prowess.”

LAN: ”With everything that is going right now and the overall empowerment of the world by the 1%, do you think that we would need to return back to the sources with a very simple, bold, loud, clear and shall I say even aggressive message that was the very essence of Punk Rock?”

Victor Bockris: ”I think we need to bring back the counterculture as a global force for humanity.”

LAN: ”Do you find that everything is more diluted today? Do you think that the messages delivered by today’s artists are as strong today as they were in the 60s and the 70s?”

Victor Bockris: ”Artists of the 50s 60s 70s were all connected by the umbrella of protest against the atrocities of WWII. Passionate realism is the key. Post 83 or so the people have no single ring to fight against.”

LAN: ”Do you think sex should be a hidden thing or more out in the open like in Japan? I’m asking because you represent both sexes and have lived as adults in a period Pre-AIDS and without shame but you also know what shame is… You also lived in an era in which homosexuality and transexuality were illegal. I’m thinking for example of Candy Darling, and Lou Reed who received I think 19 (if not more) shock treatments just because he had gay THOUGHTS.”

Marcia Resnick: ”Sex is like God. It’s the greatest thing that ever happened but its been co-opted by same people who say God is on our side. Nobody owns sex but a lot of people exploit it, like the Catholic Church or the Sex Industry. Obviously do what thou wilt is all of the law. Everything is permitted. Sex is good. No laws against sex are recognized in the magic universe.”

LAN: ”If you could talk to the young ”you(s)” when you were 15, what would you say to yourself?”

Marcia Resnick: ”Focus on learning how to live the artistic ways of life. It has great benefits but if you don’t know how to live it doesn’t make much difference”

LAN: ”Do you consider yourself a survivor? If so, what or who made you able to overcome what could have been your downfall?”

Marcia Resnick: ”Collaboration. We have helped each other survive by working to a united end on this book.”

LAN: ”The 1977 Blackout in New-York was seen as a turning point by many people because they were seeing judges and doctors turning into looters in the anonymity provided by the dark. Were you there? If yes did it have any effect on you at the time?”

Marcia Resnick: ”Sounds like a fantasy! The July 77 NY Blackout heralded a great new period because everybody walking around in Greenwich Village was exhilarated to see each other and was full of joy! People were conversing with people they didn’t know!”

LAN: ”What beauty have you ever witnessed coming out of what some would describe as a wreckage?

Marcia & Mick
Marcia & Mick

Marcia Resnick: ”Andy Warhol, Keith Richard. Lou Reed, William Burroughs for starters.”

LAN: ”This one I guess goes out more to Victor. Since Warhol himself was always taping and taking pictures, did you feel at times that you were interviewing the interviewer??”

Victor Bockris: ”I learned about how to do interviews from Andy Warhol. I cannot understand why a book of his interviews has never been published. I wrote the first draft of “Exposures” with him. He had an enormous influence as a writer which has been strangely subdued.”

LAN: ”Since we are talking about Warhol, I was curious to find out if you saw a change in Warhol after he was shot by Solanas?”

Victor Bockris: ”Everybody says that his presence was everything before he was shot. It took him a long time to recover, but the man I met in the mid seventies had more energy than anyone. It made him cautious about hanging out with hard-core people. He really bloomed in the early 80s painting with Jean-Michel (Basquiat).”

Andy Warhol by Marcia Resnick
Andy Warhol by Marcia Resnick

LAN: ”Have you ever been personally the victim of a blatant injustice?”

Victor Bockris: ”No. I avoid policemen and lawyers. It is dangerous to get involved with them.”

LAN: ”Any words of advice for the generations to come?”

Marcia Resnick: ”Collaboration is the Key to Life. You can go into any field you want to, from poetry to the law, but your chance of success will always be much greater if you find other people or another person to do it with.”

Marcia Resnick
Marcia Resnick

”Punks, Poets & Provocateurs: NYC Bad Boys, 1977-1982” by Marcia Resnick and Victor Bockris is now available in the nearest bookstore!!  

Book signing with Photographer Marcia Resnick Punks, Poets and Provocateurs: New York City Bad Boys, 1977–1982 by Marcia Resnick and Victor Bockris Published by Insight Editions Tuesday, November 10, 2015 6:30–8:30 PM / Admission free! Click on picture below for a lot more infos on related events to come!

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Johnny Thunder and Cheetah Chrome by Marcia Resnick. Click on image for more details!                      Proofreading by Helen Burkholder! TY so much!

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